Militant atheists in Georgia got the shock of their lives after trying to force the coaches and players of East Coweta High School to stop praying before football games. Instead of ending the prayers, though, the players and the entire stadium of fans responded in a way sure to enrage those attempting to erase the religious observance.
On November 5, Breitbart News reported that the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue East Coweta High School of Sharpsburg, Georgia, in order to stop the school’s football coaches from praying with their football players before games. The district quickly warned coaches to stop joining the students in prayer or face disciplinary actions.
In the small town south of Atlanta, head football coach John Small often joined his students in prayer, until the Freedom From Religion Foundation began sending threatening letters to district officials warning that coaches joining students in prayer is “illegal.”
When the story was first reported few students or parents supported the school’s move to put an end to the prayers, but the school insisted that the prayer circle be ended, anyway.
The school’s legal counsel quickly ruled that the coaches must immediately stop the prayer circles that had been conducted at the school for decades.
However, despite the anti-religious group’s threats and the school’s proclamations banning prayer, the players have persisted in mounting their prayer circle before games. And at a recent game the fans in the stands even joined the players in prayer. So, instead of just a dozen or so student football players conducting a short prayer, the entire stadium of over 400 fans at Garland Shoemake Stadium were seen praying, according to The Christian Post.
East Coweta coach Small noted that many students felt that their rights were being violated when the atheist group and the school banned their prayer sessions.
“I can assure you, if I felt like our rights were violated, I would be the first to stand up to them and say, ‘That’s wrong,'” Small told Christian Post. “They have my full support, and I know they have been through a tough time.”
Small also explained that many people in the East Coweta community were incensed by the atheist outsiders coming in to force them to put an end to their game day tradition.
“In the community, there is as a lot of people that wanted to join up and have a community prayer. We are obviously under attack all the time. This battle is not a fleshly battle. This is a battle against ‘principalities of darkness.’ That is what the word says,” Small said. “FCA is sponsoring prayer rally here at the school and anybody can come, and anybody can be a part of it. It is just a great way for the community to get together and come together.”
The school district is standing by its legal decision that coaches can’t join students in prayer because they are afraid of expensive lawsuits threatened by the outside atheist group. But students and the fans in the stands don’t seem to care what district officials or the atheist group have to say on the matter. For now, the prayers will go on.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.